Thief enters motel room through open window

Terrace RCMP are warning the public about the dangers of leaving windows open after an intruder threatened a man's life.

  • Jul. 29, 2015 12:00 p.m.

Terrace RCMP are warning the public about the dangers of leaving windows open during summer nights after an intruder threatened a man’s life after going thru an open window into a motel room.

On July 12 at approximately 4:30 a.m., a man woke up to find a stranger in his motel bedroom. He yelled at the intruder to leave. The intruder grabbed the man by the hair, started to punch the bed and mattress and scream nonsense.

The man dealt with the intruder for a length of time till finally the intruder threatened the man’s life and left.

The intruder had entered the motel room through an open window by removing the screen. He had been in the motel room for a length of time and had even prepared food in the kitchen. He had also went through the man’s truck parked outside and stolen a silver watch that remains missing.

“People often leave their windows open during the hot summer nights. This gives criminals opportunity to slip into a home quietly by simply cutting the screen. We would like people to check their windows and determine if they are putting themselves at risk by leaving them open at night,” says Const. Angela Rabut, community policing/media relations Terrace RCMP.

The intruder is described as a man in his 20’s of First Nations descent, 5 ft 8 inches, 170 lbs, wearing a blue shirt and dark khaki shorts.

If you have information about this crime contact the Terrace RCMP at 250-638-7400 or anonymously through Crime Stoppers by telephone at 1-800-222-TIPS, online at www.terracecrimestoppers.ca or by texting TERRACE plus your message to 274637 (CRIMES).

If your information leads to an arrest, you may be eligible for a cash reward of up to $2,000.

Top 10 Simple Ways to Discourage Break-ins

1. Don’t Showboat.

Leaving certain things lying around your yard or in plain sight from the road can unwittingly lure thieves onto your property like frantic bargain hunters to a flea market. First, if you have a bicycle or scooter that someone could easy to walk away with, roll it inside or into your garage. Also, after purchasing a new plasma screen television or other pricey electronics or appliance, don’t leave the box out beside the trash can or recycling bin [source: Kraeutler]. That tells people you have something brand spanking new that could fetch decent dollars on the street. It may also leave them wondering what other goodies are inside your home. You may also be showing off too much to people walking by your house as well. Open up your curtains, blinds or shades and stroll around the house and see what’s visible. If you have a number of expensive items within plain sight or near windows, think about doing a minor redesign to move them out of view.

2. Tricking Burglars.

If burglars can tell that someone is home, there’s a greater chance that they won’t attempt to break in. Remember, more break-ins occur during the day when many people are at work. For that reason, when you leave the house, create an illusion that someone’s still there. You can leave a light on, along with music or your television for good measure. Of course, if you’re going to be burning up that electricity by not turning off lights when you leave, make sure you’ve installed compact fluorescent bulbs that last longer and are better for the environment. You can also mentally fake them out by putting a home security system sign in your yard. This won’t guarantee they won’t test out whether it’s valid, but it could deter them.

3. Secure Sliding Doors and Windows.

You can easily break into some older sliding doors by simply popping them off of their frame, even when locked. It’s harder to do that with newer ones, but you should still take extra precaution to secure them since they can be an inviting entry for burglars. Simply take a strong dowel, steel bar or two-by-four and slide it into the back groove. That way, even if people can pick the lock, the rod stops the door from sliding back and opening. Although you should always lock your windows before leaving the house, you can install a simple pin or nail into to the frame to stop it from raising more than a few inches. This will add an additional layer of security in case someone pops off the screen and you have left the window unlocked. If you have a wooden window frame, you can drill a hole at your desired height above the sash, where the top and bottom window meet. Then, insert a thick metal pin or a sturdy nail into the hole. You can remove the stopper if you want to open the window completely and put it back in for security. Also remember to check window air conditioning units. If you can jimmy the window up from the outside, add a stopper to that frame.

4. Don’t Leave a Spare Key Out.

It may seem like a good idea to leave a spare key hidden under a flower pot or doormat in case you get locked out of your house. But that’s an open invitation for a burglar to walk inside without any difficulty. Someone could also see you retrieve the key at some point, giving away your hiding place. Instead, give a spare to a neighbor you know well or friend who lives nearby for safekeeping. Since most people now own cell phones, if you lock yourself out you can call for help or walk over to the person’s house. You could also put the spare into a combination lockbox and hide that somewhere outside. Remember to never put any identifying information on your house keys. If you lose them, and someone else finds them, it would be fairly easy to trace them back to your home and break in.

5. Secure Your Yard.

Tall shrubs and overgrown trees are welcome hiding places for criminals to wait until the coast is clear to get into your house. That doesn’t mean you need to cut down every plant in your yard. Just keep things manicured. Low shrubs in front of windows remove additional covering for thieves if they attempt to break in through one. Cut away any tall tree branches that reach upper story windows and protect against attacks from above. Regularly trimming larger bushes and tree branches also eliminates dark shadows that help hide intruders. This type of security measure is referred to as Crime Prevention Through Environmental Design (CPTED). CPTD strategies aim to prevent crime by creating an outdoor environment that makes it difficult to pull off. Its four tenets are:

Natural surveillance — keep entryways to your home visible to prevent people from being able to sneak up.

Territorial reinforcement — using landscaping and design to define your territorial space.

Natural Access Control — adding hindrances to easily access your property. For instance, holly bushes or other thorny shrubs around your house.

Target Hardening — structural security, such as deadbolts and double-paned windows.

You can implement these techniques in various combinations, depending on your property. It can also spruce up the appearance of your yard as an added bonus.

6. Get Police Help.

Police can help you stop crime before it happens, rather than just responding to it. For instance, if you’re leaving town for a while, let the police know and request that they drive by your property to check on things. The Terrace RCMP Auxiliary program offers free CPTED evaluations for your property. Call the Terrace RCMP for more information.

7. Prepare Before Vacation.

Residential crime spikes during July and August as people set off on summer vacations [source: OIsen]. As mentioned earlier, if you are going out of town for an extended period of time, call your local police and let them know. Also, alert neighbors you trust about your trip and ask that they keep an eye on your property during that time. More importantly, when you leave town, don’t leave signs of an empty house. That will only make your house look like a giant bulls-eye to a thief. First, if you have a home phone, don’t change your message to alert callers that you have left town. Also avoid having piled up mail, overgrown lawns and newspapers strewn about your yard that send surefire signals you’re miles away. Have a friend house sit or at least pick up your mail and newspapers. Ask them to move your car periodically to make it look like you’re still around. During the winter if you live in a cold weather climate, consider having someone shovel snow from your driveway. In the summers, arrange for someone to cut your lawn.

8. Know Your Neighbors.

Getting to know the people you live around is one of the most important safety steps you can take. Close knit neighborhoods generally report fewer break-ins [source: Olsen] because strangers will stick out, and people are more likely to keep a casual eye on other people’s security. If you rent a house or apartment, you have more incentive to get to know your community because renters are 85 percent more likely to experience a break-in [source: National Crime Prevention Council]. This may be because renters aren’t as likely to watch out for one another or have any sort of community watch program.

9. Stay Vigilant!

Although it’s nice to know you have people watching out for you in your neighborhood, you also need to watch out for yourself. If you aren’t paying attention to what you’re doing, you could unknowingly be rolling out a red carpet for a burglar to waltz through your front door. While it ­may seem like a symptom of paranoia, keep your identity and any travel plans on the down low. For instance, only put your street address on your mailbox. Give away your last name, and someone could find your phone number, work place and a host of other stats with a few mouse clicks [source: Discovery Channel]. Before you jet off to Bermuda, don’t talk about it openly in public because a sinister stranger could be taking note. Educate yourself as well about crime in the area. Check the 24 hour news release in your local newspaper to see if your neighborhood has been hit. If you notice a lot of criminal activity, that’s your signal to pay extra attention to security. And always keep an eye out for suspicious activity in neighborhood. A little added effort can go a long way to protect your home and your safety.

10. Lock it Up.

As mentioned earlier, more than 40 percent of break-ins happen without the use of force. That means a lot of people are leaving their houses without locking the doors and windows. If you have a thumb latch lock and a deadbolt on your doors, always lock the dead bolt. Double-check weaker doors such as patio and sliding ones to make sure their locks are strong enough to withstand kicks. When you leave your home, don’t forget to lock up the door leading from the garage to inside. Even if your garage door is down, someone can easily open it. You may need to change your locks to stronger ones to keep out would-be burglars.

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